Senate investigates NDDC for alleged N15bn fraud

The Senate Committee on the Niger Delta says it will conduct a full investigation into the activities of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) since 2000 till date.

This is coming on the heels of discovering that the Commission paid out about N15 billion for projects that were nonexistent or not carried out in Ondo and Bayelsa States.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, said in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Sunday, that the commission paid out N3.9 billion for a non-existent project said to be ongoing in Ondo State.

The NDDC also allocated N10.8 billion for contracts in Bayelsa State that were never executed.

Nwaoboshi’s committee, which is currently on an inspection tour of NDDC projects in the Niger Delta, as part of its oversight functions, said they are determined to get to the bottom of the fraud.

He lamented that a number of such deals were carried out between the NDDC and some fake contractors, in which several billions of naira were allocated and paid out to non-existent contractors for unidentifiable projects across states of the oil rich region.

He revealed that the commission had hid the projects and the amounts paid from the documents submitted before his committee during the 2016 budget defence, and that they uncovered the fraud though private investigations.

Nwaoboshi called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest and prosecute those found culpable in the contract scam, and to ensure that all the monies (running into several billions of naira) stolen from the Commission since inception are recovered.

Nwaoboshi, said there is a need to carry out a thorough and prompt probe of the NDDC since inception because it had embarked on “nasty projects” that were not useful to the people, even as he disclosed that the committee had already engaged the services of consultants and external auditors, including chartered accountants to probe the accounts of the NDDC, beginning from 2000.

He further declared that the committee would launch an investigation into the multi-billion naira anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs purchased by the commission without subsequent distribution to the beneficiaries until they were found to have expired.

He stated, that “An investigation of the Commission from 2000 will start soon. The question is, nobody is here to witchhunt anybody. For the projects that are completed, we will give our recommendations and even recommend them for further jobs from the NDDC. I think we have only seen two completed jobs so far since we came here; all others are abandoned ones.”

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